Human immunodeficiency virus: ‘Punjab needs rigorous awareness campaigns to control the spread’

PMA president says some people do not take precautionary measures as they think it cannot happen to them


Ali Ousat December 04, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: The topic of Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is considered a taboo in our society. In spite of dealing with the issue, many people still associate the disease with sexual conduct and look at the victim in a distasteful manner.

Though the health department, as per their claims, has begun rigorous awareness campaigns to educate the masses about the disease, very low progress is being reported.

“Actually, they did not do enough as yet to eliminate the disease, except media campaigns”, commented Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) President Professor Ajmal Hasan Naqvi.

He said that people mostly get infected with HIV after receiving blood transfusion, organ or tissue transplant from an HIV-infected donor or having unprotected sex with an HIV infected person.

He said that “Today, the transmission has become low with the use of condoms and tested blood and organs that are used for donation.”  However, the problem was that some people still do not take precautionary measures and think it cannot happen to them, he added.

He said that it was the responsibility of health department, civil society and NGOs to create awareness among the masses, otherwise, these shallow media campaigns would not work.

Alarming situation

Punjab is home to more than 80,000 HIV patients while currently around 133,529 people are infected in the country.

According to the health department spokesperson, several steps had been taken including registration of barbers and establishment of clinics across Punjab to eliminate the menace.

He said that under Punjab Aids Control Programme (PACP), the department had set up camps in 20 cities and had tested over 22,000 bus and truck drivers for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV/AIDS and was providing free vaccination and treatment for the viruses.

However, Punjab University Social and Behavioral Science Dean Professor Zakria Zakar said that these steps were not enough to deal with the virus. He said the situation was alarming and government will have to take it as a top priority, otherwise the deadly disease will be affecting our young generation.

He added that “It is my suggestion that the government must use media and start awareness programmes specifically for HIV and hepatitis, so that our people could understand and take precautions.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2017.

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